A few minutes after Kayla got into her hotel room that night after the show, the phone rang. Rolling her eyes, she put down the pajama pants she was about to change into and answered it.
"Hey there, beautiful," Nick replied. He figured that the first step towards letting Kayla know that he loved her was some good old flirting.
She giggled. "Hi, Nick. What's up?"
"Oh, not a lot. Just wanted to tell you good job on the show tonight," he said. Flattery always worked wonders on her. Okay, he was exaggerating...but she did always get that special smile on her face when he complimented her.
"Aw, thanks. You guys kicked ass too, as usual. From what I saw, at least," she replied.
"You mean, you didn't watch the whole show?" Nick asked, pretending to be shocked.
"No...I had to make more calls," she said gloomily.
"Birthday?" Nick assumed.
"So how's it coming?"
"I don't know," Kayla said. "Between some of my friends and my parents, I could only narrow it down to two weekends. And when one person can come, another can't."
"So...just have your parents come when they can for your birthday and have your friends fly in another time just for fun," Nick suggested.
"I was going to do that, but the weekend when my parents can come isn't as good. I have less free time," she complained. "I'm about to just forget the whole thing."
"You can't give up that easily," Nick protested.
"It's just too much. Look, if my parents want to come see me, they can deal with it and work out a good time," she muttered. "I have enough to worry about."
"Okay, that's it," Nick said. "I'm coming over there and we're gonna work this out."
Kayla smiled. "You don't have to."
"Yeah, I do. You're frustrated. You need some Carter assistance," Nick said.
That made her smile wider. "I'm sure."
"Hey, I'm serious."
"Okay, if you insist," she gave in.
Nick smiled to himself. "I'll be over in just a minute. What room are you in again?"
She giggled. "Think hard, Nick. What number did you dial to call me?"
He laughed. "Oh, yeah. 907. Okay, I'll be right over," he promised.
"Bye," Kayla said, smiling, before she hung up.
"Okay, so let's go over this," Nick was saying as he and Kayla sat on her bed a few minutes later. "What's the deal?"
She sighed and looked down at the piece of paper she had in front of her. "Okay. I called my parents, my grandmother, my old voice teacher, and eight friends."
Nick raised his eyebrows. "Only eight? For a party?"
Kayla looked at him meaningfully. "I don't want to make this any more complicated than it already is."
He smiled. "Good point."
"Well, I narrowed it down to the first two weekends of March," she went on. "My parents and my sister, two friends, and my voice teacher can only come the first weekend. Two other friends can come both weekends, and the other four as well as my grandmother can only come the second weekend. And Sara and Linz are in that last four. They're myŚ"
"Best friends," Nick finished smiling. "I met them, remember?"
She smiled weakly. "Oh, yeah. So what do you think I should do?"
"My suggestion is to have just your parents and your sister come up and visit you that first weekend and then find another when your friends and those other people can come," he said.
"That's what I thought too at first, but I have practically no free time that weekend. We have shows Friday and Saturday, and I have three, possibly four other things to go to," she countered.
Nick shrugged. "Just take them with you. They'll have fun."
"But my sister gets tired so easily, and my parents have to take care of her. I don't want this to be that stressful for them."
"Just for you, right?" Nick said, grinning.
Kayla rolled her eyes but smiled too. "Yeah, pretty much."
"Look, Kayla, it's your birthday. Do what you want," Nick said. "Don't make it a bigger deal than it actually is."
Kayla was going to reply, but at that moment, her cell phone rang, and she had to get up to answer it.
"You know, I'm seeing a pattern here. I come over to talk, and your phone rings," Nick remarked.
She laughed. "You're a genius, Nicky," she said sarcastically.
"Hey, you be quiet," Nick replied, also laughing.
Kayla made a face at him as she picked up her phone. "Hello?" she said.
"Hi, Kayla, this is Rick," her manager replied.
"Oh, hi," she said. "What's up?"
"I need to talk to you about that second song you're writing for your album," he answered.
"Oh...okay. Will you hold on for one minute?"
Kayla took the phone away from her ear and covered the mouthpiece with her hand. "It's my manager," she informed Nick. "This could be awhile."
"Want me to leave?"
"Oh, you're welcome to stay. I just don't want you to be bored," she said quickly.
Like I could be bored when you're in the same room, Nick thought. "Oh, don't worry about me," was all that he said out loud.
Kayla shrugged. "Okay." She held the phone back up to her ear. "Sorry about that."
"Don't worry about it. Oh, before we get into this, is everything okay with you? I mean, is there anything you need me to do?"
"No, everything's fine."
"Okay, good. Well, I have a lot of calls to make tonight so I'll keep this brief. People at the record company just called me yesterday. They really want to get your album out as soon as possible, before the public loses interest."
Kayla sighed. "Okay..."
"Take that as a compliment, honey, it means they think you'll sell a lot now."
"Oh, I know. That wasn't what...forget it. Go on." This is just what I need, she was thinking. Even more stress.
"Okay, well, I know you want to put that second song you're writing on the album, and we would all love for it to be on there, but time is an issue here," Rick went on gently.
"What are you saying?"
"We'd absolutely love to have it on there, but if you want it on this coming album, we're gonna need it to be done by your next recording session."
"A few days after your birthday. March 3, I believe. It's a Thursday."
Kayla shut her eyes. That was only two weeks away, give or take a few days...and with all the pressure she was under right now...
"So is that doable or do we need to save it for your next album?" he asked.
She sighed. "It's fine."
"Okay, great. I have to go now. You're doing some great work over there, babe. Keep it up."
"Thanks," she said wearily.
"I'll call back soon."
"Bye." Kayla hung up the phone and gave it such a fierce glare that Nick reached over and took it away from her.
"Uh-uh. Don't hurt the phone. Bad idea," he advised. She cracked a smile, but he could tell she was pissed off about something. "Okay. What did Rick want?"
"Oh, nothing, just to give me a fun deadline!" she replied, pretending to be cheerful.
"For what and when?"
"My other song I'm writing and March 3."
"Aw, that's nothing," Nick said.
"For you, maybe, but this is only the fourth or fifth song I've ever written, and I've barely even started on it, and I usually work fairly well under pressure, but this is different."
"You'll be fine," Nick soothed.
"I don't know. I don't know if I can do this."
"All right. Come here," Nick said, patting the mattress in front of him. She sighed and crawled over to sit there with her back to him. "Everything will work out, Kayla," Nick said more softly as he began to massage her shoulders. "You'll have a good birthday. You'll see everyone you want to. You'll make your deadline. You just need to relax a little," he concluded. He could feel her body responding and doing just that, relaxing, and it might have been just him, but it felt like the sexual tension in the room was at an all time high. Nick moved his fingers up to her neck, and she let her head drop back slightly and sighed luxuriously.
Nick was so tempted by that sigh he could hardly control himself, but somehow he managed to pull away. If he wanted this to happen the right way, he had to be the one who was in control at all times. Not to mention the fact that he was dying to get a little bit of innocent revenge and tease her for once.
Kayla turned her head when he stopped rubbing, a questioning look in her eyes. Nick concealed a smile when he saw that air of protestation that meant that she really, really liked what he had been doing.
"It's getting late," Nick said softly. Just like the day they had first met, their eyes locked, and Nick wanted to finally kiss her but once again forced himself to stay in control and take things one step at a time. "I'll see you tomorrow," he said, breaking the gaze as he got off of the bed.
"Okay. Thanks for the help," Kayla said, looking slightly baffled by what had just happened.
Let her wonder, Nick thought slyly. "Anytime," he said. "And I mean that," he added with a smile. Flirting with her was ever so much fun.
"Okay. Bye, Nick."
As soon as he was alone in the hall, Nick let out a satisfied laugh and rubbed his hands together. This wasn't turning out so bad after all.